Local News

Former Nortel Workers Look To Emus To Cure Jobless Blues

Posted January 16, 2003 10:11 a.m. EST

— Like the retail industry, the high-tech sector is still trying to get past tough times. Two former Nortel workers are back on their feet, thanks to the emu.

Slinging hot dogs is about as far away from the information technology career for which Dennis Cook gave 18 years of his life. Nortel laid off Cook and Rick Dixon 1.5 years ago, but they said they saw it coming.

"We also knew that we had to do something else besides IT because IT jobs were pretty scarce right now," Cook said.

After Nortel, Cook and Dixon joined to raise emus. They created the Emu Cafe, located on Highway 64 next to Lake Jordan. They said it was a natural step to find a way to sell the product.

"We realized that the emu industry was pretty much in its infancy," Cook said.

Cook and Dixon are not only cooking up emu in hot dogs and meat balls. They are pitching all kinds of emu products, pitching the health benefits, especially to people who have found corporate life and layoffs to be extremely unhealthy.

"It's just devastating to people and a lot of emotional things go on with people that cause them to have a lot of problems, even heart attacks and strokes," Dixon said.

Dixon was one of those who developed heart problems, which is why he handles the creative end of things while Cook handles the more stressful business side.

"We make the choices that decide our future," Cook said.

Emu meat is 97 percent fat-free and has long been part of the Australian diet.